In time for its 90th anniversary year, American Airlines has tapped Cole Haan to create an exclusive line of accessories for its employees this fall. And starting in September, for the first time in 20 years staffers will wear new uniforms from Twin Hill.
Two-and-a-half years ago the airlines recruited Kaufman Franco’s Ken Kaufman and Isaac Franco to suit up employees, but the collaboration did not advance beyond the wear test phase. Kaufman Franco and American Airlines are no longer working together, but the airlines has had Twin Hill adapt a Kaufman Franco uniform design. The 52,000-person strong employee base also offered some design input ranging from pocket placement to the choice of fabrics, according to Fernand Fernandez. The deal is big business for Twin Hill’s parent company Tailored Brands, which also owns Men’s Wearhouse, Jos. A. Bank, Joseph Abboud and other brands. Starting May 13, two million garments will be shipped to pilots, flight attendants, ground crew and other staff to give them time to have anything altered or exchanged for the proper size, he said.
Cole Haan has created handbags and scarves for female employees and attaché cases and pockets squares for their male counterparts. In addition to upping the style quota, Cole Haan had functional elements to consider such as the fact that American’s 24,000 flight attendants need to be able to quickly access the Samsung tablets they use to help passengers.
Cole Haan also kept American’s 15,000 iPad-equipped pilots in mind. Available in gray, red and white, or red, white and blue, the scarves provide a dose of color for American Airlines’ in-flight crews’ uniforms. American Airline employees will have the option to buy the new accessories for family and friends. The handbags and attaché cases will retail from $300 to $500 and the scarves will be sold for $50 to $100. The collection will not be sold in Cole Haan stores or in American’s in-flight magazine.
American Airlines is not alone in trying to make its staffers more stylish. Delta recruited Zac Posen to overhaul uniforms for its 30,000 employees. His creations will be unveiled in 2018. Aligned with that timing is Alaska Airlines’ plans to present its own new look. Alaska Airlines, which recently acquired Virgin America for $2.6 billion, has hired Seattle-based designer Luly Yang to redesign uniforms for its Alaska Airlines 12,500 employees. In the midst of conducting focus groups with Alaska Airlines staff, the designer plans to test some of her creations later this year or early next year, a spokesman for the designer said. The Seattle-based company wanted to go with a local designer, since it markets a variety of Seattle products to passengers, she added.
It has not yet been determined if Yang will also design new looks for Virgin staff but the designer is already blogging fashion-related travel tips on Alaska Airlines’ site. Known also for her bridal designs, Yang recently posted about packing a wedding dress for a destination wedding.